Nightmare at Sea
The ship gently rocked on the empty ocean. There was no wind to catch the sails. The only sound was the occasional wave lapping against the wooden hull. No one manned the crow's nest. Not that there was a need. There were no other ships and no land in sight. Skies were clear and a full moon shone brilliantly, reflecting on the water and illuminating the decks. Only two men were on the deck, the rest below decks in a deep slumber. A shadowy figure moved quietly toward the man staring out to sea while taking the occasional puff on his pipe. The figure stood behind him and the blade caught a glint of moonlight just before plunging deeply into the man's back. The pipe fell into the water with a barely audible plunk and he slumped forward without a sound. The figure drew back the blade and made its way toward the man at the wheel. The man was the captain. He allowed his crew to sleep after the three days of rough seas and now he was at the helm. The figure crept up behind him, but the captain heard the slight creak of the one loose board that lay two steps away. He spun around to meet a familiar face.
"Ah, it's just you," the captain said with relief in his voice. "Couldn't sleep?"
The figure gave a kind smile. "No."
With a sudden and swift movement the captain's throat was sliced open and he dropped making only quiet gurgling noises.
For several moments the figure looked around and took in all that had just happened and the irony of the fresh salt air in the crisp night. Somehow it seemed that the night made everything clean, including death. It gave the figure great pleasure and looking up at the crow's nest he let out a small laugh. Being that close to the sky made the rest of them look like ants and for days he just wanted to stomp on them. He had been relieved of duty earlier in the evening when the first mate had climbed up to his post. And the first mate had been relieved of his duty immediately after with one swift flick of a knife. The figure contemplated what had compelled him do these things, but could not come to an answer. What did it matter? This gave him more pleasure than anything ever had. After some time, he made his way below decks. The smell down there began to bother him more and more. No one else seemed to notice. The mixture of fruits, days old food, spilt rum, and the stench of his fellow crew was almost more than he could bear. He had been on many other voyages and it never affected him. This time was different, though he didn't know why.
Ever since the last port four days ago, he had felt different. Like everyone else, he indulged in the luxuries that all good ports have. Real food, much drink in different varieties, and all of the loose women a man could handle. Each of these done in excess. Normal behavior for men of the sea and something that he had grown accustomed to these last few years. And like all visits to a port, most could not remember pieces of the revelry. He was no exception. But something had changed and he could not pinpoint the exact moment when it did. He stood in the doorway of the sleeping quarters watching his crewmates as they lay in their bunks, completely unaware of the fate that would take them one by one. As the moonlight cascaded through the portholes, he tried to remember what the whiskey and rum had seemed to wash away. He recalled eating many different and somewhat exotic dishes made with poultry and seafood. The tastes of the rich desserts still haunted his tongue like a lost lover. Being a younger man, he had no problem with the women. There were trysts with four, or maybe five, different whores. A couple of them were taken at the same time. The brief moments in between were filled with drink and laughter.
He stepped from the doorway and crouched down against the wall. The memories came clear and clouded at the same time. They all mixed together in a flood of pleasure. It aroused him even now. He had woken up on the ship just before they had set sail again. Others had also indulged too much and had to be carried aboard. Suddenly, he remembered that he had a task and sprang to his feet. He couldn't allow himself to be distracted. He had to be very quiet so as not to wake anyone. If one of the crew were to hear his actions, it would all be over and he would be taken down quickly. They would accuse him of mutiny and that was not his goal. Not that he really knew what the goal was. He had no desire to control the ship and he was not sure of what drove his actions. He just wanted this. This moment when time seemed to stand still, waiting just for him. Stepping softly to the first bunk, he covered the crewman's mouth and gingerly slit his throat. It was so easy. He continued from bunk to bunk repeating his actions with only the sound of his own heart beating in his ears. It was exhilarating beyond belief. A feeling that all the best food, drink, and whores in the world could not compare to. He glanced back in the pale light at his victims, some with their eyes open in horror, and a smile crept across his face. The massacre continued until he reached the last bunk. Here lay his best friend out of the crew. For a long moment he stood there watching his friend breathe. Blood dripped from the knife and hit the floor like velvet. He leaned over, holding the knife behind him.
"Wake up," he whispered.
His friend opened his eyes, sleep still weighing heavily on him.
"Has something happened?"
A grin slowly appeared on the killer's face. The irony of the question was not lost on him. In fact, he found it quite humorous.
"Nothing at all," he replied, and began laughing.
His friend's clouded mind cleared rapidly as he glimpsed the carnage behind the figure hovering over him. The figure brought his hand forward producing the bloodstained knife. His friend was trapped between him and the wall. His grin became even more evil when he heard the first yelp of fear. Stabbing over and over, he did not stop until he saw nothing but moonlit scarlet soaking his friend's clothing and blanket. Silence. A welcome deafness that only death can provide. Sweat drenched his brow and he backed toward the doorway to survey his work. As he stood there, sound began to return. The gentle lapping of the waves against the wooden hull, the occasional creak of the sea-worn ship, droplets of blood as they softly hit the floorboards. And with the sounds, the smell of iron canvassed the room, covering the stench that had so bothered him before. Never before had he felt such release.
So consumed was he with his job well done, that he did not immediately notice the presence behind him. He felt the breath on the back of his neck. It was hot and yet he was suddenly frozen in fear.
"Excellent," hissed the presence into his ear.
The knife fell from his hand, clattering to the floor. He screamed and dropped to his knees. In the moonlight he could see that he was soaked with blood. A hand lay kindly on his shoulder and he began sobbing uncontrollably. He now remembered what he had forgotten.